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Jun-09-2010 15:07printcomments

Israel's Lifting of Gaza Blockade Means Junk Food, But No Cement to Rebuild Damaged Buildings

The marginal easement is a step in the right direction, but a very small one.

Raffah Crossing at Gaza
File image of Raffah Crossing at Gaza during a previous effort, Viva Palestina. Courtesy: Wikipedia

(JERUSALEM) - Some food items that had been banned under Israel's and Egypt's blockade of the Gaza Strip, are now finding their way into this battered, walled and tortured land. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla set out with a goal of breaking the several years old siege that has brought this population to piteous depths of poverty, the likes of which even this place had been able to avoid. Reporters with the Times of India spoke to officials Wednesday, who agree that it is a small step toward easing its three-year-old blockade of the territory, after worldwide criticism of last week’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla. The decision only narrowly expands the list of goods that can enter Gaza — and most of the newly permitted items are already being smuggled into the area from neighboring Egypt. The move also does not include the most-sought items in Gaza, such as cement, steel and other materials needed to rebuild the war-devastated strip. But it is the first tangible step by Israel to temper the uproar caused by the raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead after a clash with Israeli naval commandos on one of the flotilla’s ships. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said that soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy were now permitted. He said some products have already entered Gaza, and others would cross in the coming days. The naval raid drew attention to the blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas militants seized power in Gaza in 2007. The closure has devastated Gaza’s already battered economy, erased tens of thousands of jobs and prevented the area from repairing damage after a fierce Israeli military offensive in Gaza early last year. Wednesday’s gesture was unlikely to blunt the global criticism, since it doesn’t lift the ban on materials needed to rebuild Gaza. ======================================================= Special thanks to the Times of India

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Incredulous June 10, 2010 6:15 am (Pacific time)

Wait a minute! Cement is on the list of things that Israel does not allow into Gaza? Most of the cargo of the Mavi Mara was cement. What happened to all that cement after the Israeli's seized the ship? a. Israel gave the cement to the Gazans to rebuild b. Israel sent the cement back to Turkey c. Israel kept the cement to build new settlements on Palestinian land Maybe somebody else has a better idea or some inside information about what happened to the cement, but I'm going with c until someone can prove otherwise. If you were going to steal someone else's land and home, it just makes sense that you would also steal the materials you need to build your own new home on the stolen property.

Natalie June 9, 2010 4:18 pm (Pacific time)

Frankly speaking, this article left a sour taste in my mouth. Here's why-"Junk Food" has a negative meaning to many. That's a nice synonym for garbage. If they already have that "junk" why did those activists take the risk of going there, why was it sent in the first place? I'm leaving my stronger expressions out. I mean if I'm hungry-I'll take whatever edible is offered and say "thanks". If not-toss it out and say it's junk. This piece left me with impression that whatever food was onboard, it's "garbage". I hope it's just my poor English.

Anonymous June 9, 2010 3:46 pm (Pacific time)

just a thought..israel has killed more american citizens than hamas has..anyone that has other stats, please send.

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